book reviews, books, coffee and kindness, coming clean, crown, dutton books, eleanor oliphant, encouragement, gail honeyman, inspiration, john green, kimberly rae miller, mark haddon, motivation, new harvest, nina george, pamela dorman books, reading, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, the little paris bookshop, turtles all the way down, vintage
Here’s a roundup of some recent reads:
It’s rare when I finish a book and I’m sad when it’s over – but that’s how I felt about “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.” I LOVED it. I loved her! Eleanor is a single woman, the (seemingly) stereotypical fussy “spinster” who lives alone, talks to her mother on the phone once a week, and has a fantasy crush on a rock star. She lives a quiet life – she’s mousy and unnoticeable, and she likes it that way. Then, out of the blue, a new friend – and a secret from her own past – turn her world upside down. Can Eleanor venture outside her carefully crafted comfort zone? You must find out! (Also I hear this is soon to be a movie).
Ah, “Turtles.” See, this is one of those “Young Adult” (YA) books that I talked myself into reading, because of the hype. I know John Green has a huge fan following, but this story did nothing for me. It follows Aza, a nerdy high-schooler, and a group of her friends, as they try to solve the mystery of a local man’s disappearance. The story is told from Aza’s point of view, and much of the prose consists of narration of her unruly, spiraling thoughts as she grapples with depression and anxiety. As I suffer from those conditions myself, I’m not throwing shade about that – but rather, the fact that Aza’s very real personal issues are set against the backdrop of an implausible “Scooby Doo” mystery. But then, I’m not the target reader for this book. I’ve heard many young people say they found it life-changing. Your mileage may vary.
“Coming Clean” was much more my style. This is a memoir, written by a woman who was raised by hoarders. She tells the painful story of her childhood, when she was afraid to bring friends to her house, and how her deep love for her parents was at odds with her despair that they would ever be able to change. Coming to terms with the shame, and the fear that she would grow up to be the same way, was a long journey, and it’s a fascinating one. Miller takes a deep dive into the question of how our parents, and our childhoods, continue to define us.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” was the choice of my book club (actually, I belong to two), and is not a book I would have normally read on my own. But that’s the great thing about book clubs – they introduce you to titles you would never read otherwise. The story is told from the point of view of a 15-year-old boy with autism, and provides a stunning insight into the way that people with autism think and feel as they move through the world. Our protagonist, Christopher, makes a curious discovery about his neighbor’s dog, and sets out on a personal quest to learn more. Along the way, he uncovers secrets that change lives.
Every once in a while, you finish a book and know that you will never be the same. This novel by Nina George really touched my heart. Jean Perdu is a Frenchman who owns a bookstore, and who still carries a torch for a long-lost love. He goes on a quest to find her, and in the process, finds himself. A beautiful story of loss and discovery. A must read. The author has a second book out now that’s still in hardcover. I want to read it when it comes out in paperback.
That’s it for now – more to come soon!
What are you reading? Have you read any of these? Opinions?